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Phuket Gazette Sports: EPL midweek summary

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Phuket Gazette Sports: EPL midweek summary | Thaiger
Pressure on City as United steam ahead in title race
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A midweek slip-up has again left Manchester City needing seven points to draw level with title rivals Manchester United ahead of a weekend encounter with an unpredictable Liverpool side capable of inflicting further pain.

A 0-0 stalemate at Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday has left City playing catch-up once again and added extra spice to Sunday’s encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

A defeat and City could find themselves 10 points adrift, deep into the second half of the season when United, who visit Fulham on Saturday, are traditionally strong.

City lacked the killer instinct to break down QPR and on Sunday will face a Liverpool team who have also frequently come up short when looking to deliver a knockout blow.

Capable of weaving pretty passing patterns, the Merseysiders have all too often lacked the mettle for a scrap or had the resolve to dig deep and grind out a result when the chips are down.

Having stumbled out of the FA Cup against third tier Oldham, they showed what they are capable of on their day with an impressive first-half display against Arsenal last night, but again stumbled under pressure and ended up drawing 2-2.

New signing Daniel Sturridge has shown he can work well in tandem with 17-goal striking partner Luis Suarez while the club’s second January acquisition Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho could make an early debut on Sunday.

Arsenal, who showed their own defensive fragility in a comical and error-strewn first half against Liverpool, will face a different challenge at home to the physical and direct Stoke City.

United play Fulham a week after they strolled to a 4-1 victory over the west London club in the FA Cup fourth round.

That match was billed as the return of Dimitar Berbatov to his former club, but the Bulgarian’s contribution amounted to little more than a lackadaisical stroll around his former Old Trafford stomping ground.

United maintained their own title march with a 2-1 win over Southampton thanks to two goals from England striker Wayne Rooney.

Chelsea face a tricky visit to Newcastle on Saturday after their form under interim manager Rafa Benitez again came under the spotlight when they gave away a two-goal lead for the second time in two weeks to draw 2-2 at Reading in midweek.

Tottenham Hotspur’s form has also faltered and they will be hoping to win their first match in four against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday after three successive league draws.

Arsenal hit back to draw with Liverpool
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Arsenal hit back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Liverpool in the Premier League yesterday.

Liverpool seemed set for an impressive victory with goals from Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson giving them a healthy lead with half an hour left but Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott replied in a two-minute burst for the Gunners.

Tottenham Hotspur remained in fourth place but needed a Gareth Bale special to earn them a point at Norwich City after they trailed at halftime.

Everton closed to within a point of Tottenham with a 2-1 home defeat of West Bromwich Albion.

Leaders Manchester United were at home to Southampton in a late kickoff and third-placed Chelsea were in action at Reading.

Newcastle French connection clicks in “massive” Villa win
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Newcastle United’s French spending spree paid immediate dividends in their fight against Premier League relegation with a “massive” 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Aston Villa.

Newcastle, plagued by injuries and languishing in 15th place having finished a surprise fifth last season, have signed five French players in the January transfer window.

Assured debuts by midfielder Moussa Sissoko and forward Yoan Gouffran, among 11 Frenchmen in the Newcastle squad, silenced the doubters.

“Welcome to the English league for the French boys. Every one of them put in a great shift,” defender Steven Taylor, who was making his first appearance since November after an injury layoff, told the club’s website (click www.nufc.co.uk).

“It was a massive, massive win. That feels like one of the most important games I’ve ever played in a black and white jersey,” added the 27-year-old after Newcastle pulled four points clear of the drop zone.

Taylor laughed off suggestions that there was a culture and language clash at Newcastle amid reports of club fines for players not speaking in English.

“They (the French players) got up one by one and sang in front of the lads. It’s great and it’s what we need at this football club – that togetherness,” said Taylor who grew up in Newcastle.

“The banter was flying the night before the game and the French lads were in amongst it. Already they’ve been accepted by the boys. They want to come here and fight it out and that second-half performance was what we need.”

Gouffran was impressed by the famous Newcastle away support, numbering over 2,500 at Villa Park.

“They were magnificent, absolutely superb. You just don’t get that sort of support in France,” said the ex-Girondins Bordeaux forward.

Manager Alan Pardew, under pressure having been given an eight-year contract by owner Mike Ashley in September on the back of his success last year, said France midfielder Sissoko had been a great find.

“Sissoko is a class act, trust me. Everything that I thought he might do for this team, he delivered in the first half,” said Pardew after Sissoko provided the assist for Papiss Cisse to score the opener after 19 minutes.

“He ran out of steam in the second half – those French players now know the difference between Ligue 1 and the Premier League.”

Newcastle next face Chelsea in the league on Saturday and play Ukraine’s Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League last 32 in February.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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